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L.A.'s condom law hardly curtains for porn

Condoms Porn
The L.A. City Council seems able to easily pass resolutions about matters like corporate personhood and the boycott over Arizona's immigration laws. This one was much closer to home: It voted to require condom use in porn films within the city limits.

The porn industry is the Hollywood shadow, prospering to the tune of billions of dollars, principally in the San Fernando Valley. Of late, cases of HIV have shut down some shoots -- one consideration that led to the council's vote.

The argument against the condom law was the usual -- that the business will pick up and go elsewhere. But run away to where? Temecula? Vallejo? State law already requires condom use by porn performers; L.A., as the place where many of the productions are based, is putting its own teeth in the state law.

And the moralizing posses in other cities may not be as welcoming of this particular new business.

As for other states to take the porn trade to -- Arizona? Oregon? Anything-goes Nevada? As my colleague Ron Lin pointed out in his story, New Hampshire is the only other state where such shoots are legal -- and if porn producers don't like how condoms look in their movies, they really won't like goosebumps.

The porn industry already regularly lobbies Sacramento, to the amusing discomfiture of some politicians,  so if its advocates are unhappy about a state health and safety requirement that's being backstopped by L.A., they can hit the hallways of the state Capitol again.

The porn makers say condoms can ruin the fantasy for porn watchers, and that entertainment is all about fantasy. But even the fantasy factories have been drawing some lines, like the one about smoking onscreen.

Our Ted Rall had his own fantasies -- journalistic ones -- about where this regulation might lead: to the Realistic Plot Act (as if) or even the Morning-After Visualization Act.

I still have to get my mind around the idea that if you have sex for money without cameras rolling, it's prostitution, and with the cameras rolling, it's art -- just as a woman stomping defenseless little animals to death with high-heeled shoes is animal cruelty unless you make a video and call it free expression. Thankfully, President Obama signed a law sponsored by Republicans and Democrats to prohibit making, selling and distributing "crush videos" -- and making it a prison offense to do it.

This may be the only case on record in which Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. has agreed publicly with the president, in his dissent from a court ruling that found that an earlier law about animal cruelty videos -- in that case a Virginia man selling dogfighting videos -- was too broad. Alito dissented, noting the "excruciating pain" of living creatures, something contrary to the values of society.

Adult sex videos are about consenting adults, not unconsenting animals, but no one should have to put himself or herself at risk of AIDS, and the law is there to back that up -- even if the lawmakers themselves sometimes need a kick-start to remember that.

RELATED:

Safe sex in the porn industry

Condoms in porn: Moving industry out of state could be difficult

Condom rule: First step in porn master plan?

--Patt Morrison

Photo: An editor works on a video at porn firm Vivid's headquarters in 2007. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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